He, China’s new economic czar, who faces flagging growth at home, said through an interpreter that his engagements with Yellen so far have been “constructive”. But he added that the two sides needed to bring their relationship “back to a healthy and stable development”.
He said he would communicate China’s “key concerns on the economy”, including improving the investment and business environment and “to also take effective measures to bring our economic and trade relations back on track” – references to longstanding Chinese objections to US tariffs on its exports and restrictions on US investment in China.
The San Francisco meetings mark the first in-person gatherings of new US-China economic and financial forums involving staff-level officials from both sides after their launch in October.
But in announcing the consultations on Monday, Yellen said this would not be a recreation of the Obama administration’s US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a broad forum that was widely criticised for its lack of substance.
A US Treasury official said that a key goal for the meetings was deepening communications with China, gaining a better understanding of the relationship, and avoiding any misunderstandings about US policy decisions.
Kelly Ann Shaw, a former White House trade adviser to former President Donald Trump, said it was important for Yellen to re-engage with China, but that the meeting would do little to change the overall trajectory of US-China relations.
“This relationship is fundamentally fractured. And I think it’s going to stay that way for the foreseeable future,” said Shaw, a partner at law firm Hogan Lovells.
“So it’s about figuring out, what do we want this relationship to look like knowing that? And just because you don’t like each other doesn’t mean you can’t get along where your interests align.”
Yellen also said that she would discuss cooperation with China on global challenges, including climate change and debt relief for low-income countries, where the US and China “have an obligation to lead.”
Deputy US Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Reuters NEXT on Thursday that Yellen also will make it clear that China should “not provide material support for Russia in their war against Ukraine”, as firms that do so will incur US sanctions.
“We think that having those direct conversations means that they understand us and we understand them,” Adeyemo said, adding that new sanctions were coming soon against parties aiding funding of the Hamas militant group in Gaza.
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